Royal Ascot Etiquette Guide

By | 20th April 2017

Attracting approximately 300,000 visitors a year, the Royal Ascot is easily the most valuable racing competitions in Britain; with a £6.5million prize available for many of the world’s finest racehorses.
However, if you are planning to attend this highly glamorous and prestigious event in 2017, it is important your party is well prepared for the occasion, for there are certain behaviours and general rules to follow, that are applicable, no matter which enclosure you intend to visit.
If you are aspiring to attend Royal Ascot, then going there to experience what the Royal meeting has to offer first hand, simply must be crossed off your bucket list.
Of course, the event is centred on the racing, but it has evolved into so much more than that. With a very strict dress code in place, every year we see fashionistas pushing the boundaries with elaborate dresses, and more importantly, hats. Seeing all of the attendees in their finery has come to be a spectacle and has moulded Royal Ascot into the glamorous event that many fans know and love.
The ‘Royal’ Aspect of the meeting is delivered by senior members of the Royal Family and indeed by The Queen herself who is notoriously recognised as a massive fan of the races. Her Royal Majesty, the Queen will attend the event every year to watch her own horse’s race. She arrives in style, in a delicately adorned carriage, pulled by Winsor Greys. The carriage travels along the race course, through the grandstand and into the parade ring, where she addresses spectators and officially begins the days racing. As she passes the grandstand, gentlemen will remove their hats out of respect to Her Royal Majesty.
Each day at Royal Ascot is dedicated to six specific races, and every one of these days hosts at least one group one race. The most famous day is considered to be Ladies day, which traditionally falls on a Thursday.
Gates Open at Royal Ascot from 10.30 am and visitors are encouraged to arrive as near to this time as possible, in order to be able to fully enjoy everything that this prolific event has to offer.
Within the various hospitality restaurants and facilities, Visitors are greeted with either a champagne or Pimms reception followed by morning tea and coffee. Lunch is served from 12pm, with a full two hours service so that you are able to relax and enjoy the fine selection of food that is on offer.
The Queen traditionally arrives each day at 14.00, before the first race begins at 14.30. The final race takes place at 17.35.
The Royal Enclosure:
One of the most highly prestigious and privileged ways, to attend Royal Ascot is as a member of The Royal Enclosure. Holding a membership to the Royal Enclosure is very exclusive. Those that are members become members by nomination from someone that is, and has been a member for four or more years.
If you are fortunate enough to have been invited into The Royal Enclosure then there are many conducts that must be adhered to. The way that you deport yourself, for example, is very important if you are to be accepted into the fold. Swearing or any anti-social behaviours will never be tolerated.
Dress Code:
Whether your party is visiting Royal Ascot as members of the Royal Enclosure, guests within a corporate hospitality facility, or simply with Queen Anne Enclosure badges, there are specific codes of conduct and dress that must be followed. You are required to be appropriately dressed at all times.
Gentlemen are required to present themselves in a full, three piece morning suit, with top hat and tie. Cravats are not permitted. Shoes must be pristine, polished and black.
The Ladies dress code is even more specific. Dresses and skirts must be, what is considered to be, of moderate length, nothing shorter than just above the knee. Dresses and tops must have straps or sleeves that are greater than one inch wide. Halter necks and spaghetti straps are not permitted at any time. Jackets, wraps and shawls may be worn, but dresses or tops underneath have to comply with the one inch rule. Midriffs must not be exposed at any time. Ladies may wear a trouser suit but it has to be matching, in both colour and in material and must be full length. Ladies are required to wear a hat, although as an alternative to a hat, a head piece with a solid diameter of more than 4 inches is acceptable.
Royal Ascot Hospitality Facilities & the Queen Anne Enclosure:
When you are attending Royal Ascot as part of a hospitality package, or if you hold a badge for the Queen Anne Enclosure, you should regard your attendance as a formal occasion. The usual behaviours that you would display if you were to go to a wedding, for example, would be applicable within the racecourses hospitality facilities, bars, restaurants, and within the grandstand.
The dress code is similar for ladies, as it is within the Royal Enclosure, however, a fascinator may be worn as an alternative to a hat. Strapless or sheer straps on any dress or top will not be permitted in any case. Trousers can be worn as part of a suit or simply with a top that complies with the rules regarding straps. Midriffs must be covered at all times and shorts may not be worn.
Gentlemen are required to wear a suit and tie. They do not need to wear a morning suit or top hat unless they wish to do so.